Victor Oladipo has not played in an NBA game since January. A ruptured quad tendon in his right knee has kept him out since, but despite missing more than 10 months, it still isn't clear when Oladipo will take the floor for the Indiana Pacers. Coach Nate McMillan revealed Monday that Oladipo is "not close" to returning to the court, and that he would only address questions about his role when his star guard is closer to taking the court according to Scott Agness of The Athletic

The Pacers are being cautious with Oladipo's return, and he explained why himself. In his eyes, problems that he ignored last season ultimately led to his major injury. "Last year, when I was out first and I missed that big chunk of games before I came back and played, there were already some issues going on with my knee back then," Oladipo said Monday afternoon. "It wasn't like this injury was just miraculous and, boom, I just got hurt out of nowhere. It was problems already before that."

Fortunately for Oladipo, the Pacers have no reason to rush him. They have thrived in his absence so far this season. Offseason addition Malcolm Brogdon has grown into an All-Star-caliber player in Indiana just as Oladipo once did. Both thrived with more ball-handling duties, and the two should form one of the most ferocious defensive backcourts in the NBA once Oladipo is healthy. As well as Brogdon has played, though, the bulk of Indiana's success this season should be credited to the breakout of a player who was once traded alongside Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis

Sabonis is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals, and has led the Pacers to a 19-9 start despite injuries to just about everyone, except Sabonis. It is the emergence of players like Sabonis and Brogdon that makes Indiana so dangerous. With Oladipo as their sole star during the 2017-18 campaign, the Pacers won 48 games. Once they can add him to this season's deeper roster, they should be able to make a serious push towards the top of the Eastern Conference.